Communication Skills and Barriers.

General - Cultural Barriers

In today’s diverse workforce it's highly likely you will have employees working for you who don’t speak your language, share the same ideology that you do or believe in the same faith that do you. For example, language barriers make it difficult to give direction, explain your expectations, or provide performance feedback to those with whom you cannot communicate effectively. There can be various types of cultural barriers to communication in the workplace there’s behaviour, semantics, language, religion, stereotypes, etc.

Language: presents perhaps the most significant single cultural barrier. When two individuals do not share a common language it is increasingly likely that they will also suffer from other barriers, such as a lack of shared body language and cultural context. This leads to difficulty navigating even the most basic situations and can even cause more serious miscommunications.

The cultural difference has major impact with potential barriers to communication. It is very challenging for the people to communicate with others from different cultures. The cultural difference includes different things from people in way of seeing, hearing and interpreting. Also the same words can mean in different things to people from the different cultures.

Behaviour: Cultural differences in body language and other behaviours can also cause miscommunications. For example, in the U.S., it is important to make eye contact with someone who is speaking to you or they may think you are distracted or uninterested. However, in many Asian countries, eye contact can be a sign of disrespect or a challenge to authority. There are many other cultural differences in body language that can create barriers to effective communication. Those include differences in facial expressions, the use of nodding to indicate agreement or understanding, and the amount of space to give someone with whom you are having a conversation. Cultural differences causes behaviour and personality differences like body language, thinking, communication, manners, norms, etc. which leads to miscommunication. For example, in some cultures eye contact is important whereas in some it is rude and disrespectful. Culture also sets a specific norms which dictates behaviour as they have guidelines for accepted behaviour. It explains what is right and wrong. Every action is influenced by culture like ambitions, careers, interests, values, etc. If the rules are broken and employees aren’t happy, then cultural barriers could be a bigger problem, that’s why it’s best to act on them before they turn into a real problem.

How to overcome cultural barriers?

Provide language classes: This could work perfectly for your employees on the basic language requirements for your business. Teach them work words, phrases, warnings, and other critical communication elements that are necessary for them to perform to your performance standards. Teach the basics first. Give all of your employees a “survival” crash course in the predominant language of your workplace. Later, if you have the desire and the resources, you can provide additional opportunities for your employees to learn the language skills they need in order to “thrive” in the workplace.

Use an interpreter: Whenever you give instructions or provide feedback to your employees. There may be someone in your organization who speaks both languages fluently enough to convey your message to your employees. Find someone who you trust to translate your instructions and feedback properly, or use websites such as google translate to convey the message, this gives ease to both the sender and receiver to gain knowledge.

Convey Things of Help and Value to the Listener: The subject matter of the message should be helpful to the receiver. The need and interest of the receiver should specially be kept in mind. Communication is more effective in such a situation. Make the listener understand what you are saying, in his term, if necessary. You should make the listener feel comfortable at all times. Someone they may be in distress or upset, crying, shouting. This makes communication difficult. This can be overcome by talking in a calm, comfortable, quiet manner. If appropriate give them a hug or comfort them

Use visual methods of communication: If the others options don’t work maybe use visual ways to communicate use hand gestures and symbols or alternative ways of communication such as audio. Show more than tell. Explain it with pictures as much as possible. Take a lesson from the airlines in how they convey their safety instructions. Use pictures in your instruction manuals rather than words. Almost every step in every process can be described in picture format. Give your employees signs, cue cards, or other methods to help them learn.

Get feedback from the receiver: Don’t just ask, ‘Do you understand?’ They will more often than not say ‘yes’ because they see things in the way they want to understand it. Ask instead what their understanding of the message is, and how they see it. If they don’t seem to have the same intended outcome you expected, clarify again and make ask them ‘Do you understand?’ If they don’t understand after that ask them ‘what they don’t understand?’ and proceed from there.

To summarize, the whole idea of communication is based on transfer of information from a sender to a receiver and communication is said to be complete only when the recipient understands what the sender had to say. Thus, it's obvious that communication cannot take place in the presence of any kind of barriers that hinder healthy interaction between the communicators. Cultural barriers hamper effective communication at both personal and professional levels. Removing these barriers would certainly encourage healthy and effective communication. The main thing is to treat people from other cultures with respect; doing so will enable healthy communication between you.

Interpersonal – Jargon Barrier

Communicating effectively with your customers is essential if you want to build relationships. But there are many things that can be a barrier to communication.


Speaking the same language doesn’t mean there won’t be communication barriers. Foreign accents, cultural barriers, and the use of slang can all work to prevent clear communication.


Jargons are terminologies used by professionals to simplify a particular concept. Jargons are meant to enhance communication but at times it can act as the biggest barrier to communication. Jargons can also be used to hide certain facts so that the listener does not realize the shortfalls or aberrations. One cannot comment if they cannot apprehend the language. If someone is unaware of what the terminologies someone is using means then they are likely to lose concentration. Jargon can be a serious communication problem, some people see it as a form of technical insults that can prevent employees from knowing crucial knowledge.


It might be different according to different professions, specialty and technical field of a person. For example, technical words used by doctors and lawyers are extremely different. If they start talking, both of them will not get what the other is talking about.


How to overcome cultural barriers?


Use an interpreter: Whenever you give instructions or provide feedback to your employees. There may be someone in your organization who understands jargon meanings enough to convey your message to your employees. Find someone who you trust to translate your instructions and feedback properly, or use websites such as google translate to convey the message, this gives ease to both the sender and receiver to gain knowledge.

Be a good communicator: Have integrity and honesty in your communications. If you are seen as being someone who lacks integrity, this will immediately be noticed and even more barriers will be built up between you and the listener.

Be Aware of Language, Tone and Content of Message: The sender should take care of the fact that the message should be framed in clear and beautiful language. The tone of the message should not injure the feelings of the receiver. As far as possible the contents of the message should be brief and excessive use of technical words should be avoided.

Convey Things of Help and Value to the Listener: The subject matter of the message should be helpful to the receiver. The need and interest of the receiver should specially be kept in mind. Communication is more effective in such a situation. Make the listener understand what you are saying, in his term, if necessary. You should make the listener feel comfortable at all times. Someone they may be in distress or upset, crying, shouting. This makes communication difficult. This can be overcome by talking in a calm, comfortable, quiet manner. If appropriate give them a hug or comfort them

Be a Good Listener: It is the essence of communication that both the sender and the receiver should be good listeners and take in the information for both sides. Both should listen to the each other’s point of view with attention, patience and positive attitude. A sender can receive much relevant information by being a good listener.

Clarify your Ideas before and after Communication: The person sending the communication should be very clear in his mind about what they wants to say and what they want as the outcome to be. They should know the objective of the message and, therefore, should arrange his thoughts in a proper order.

Written Communication - Grammar Mistakes Barriers

The grammar mistakes can be a major impact on the barriers to effective communication. The grammar mistakes works by when you have grammar mistakes on your letter or the message you sending to the company. This means when your sentence does not make sense and when you do not structure your sentence correctly. This can make the reader to not to understand what you are meaning and this will also create confusion to the reader. So this is why grammar mistakes can be potential barriers to effective communication.


Grammar mistakes can be communication barriers. For example, if an employee at Apple was sent a letter from their boss instructing them to “Fill out the forms under no circumstances put the forms in the bin.” he wouldn’t know what to do. This is because if you use punctuation the letter reads two different ways. If you included a comma after “forms” the letter would read, “Fill out the forms, and under no circumstances put the forms in the bin.” This is instructing and employee to fill out the forms and not put them in the bin. If you were to add a comma after “circumstances” the letter would read, “Fill out the forms under no circumstances, and put the forms in the bin.” This is now instructing the employee to not fill out the forms and put them in the bin, therefore, you can see how this would prevent effective communication as the employee has no idea what to do. If his boss had included proper punctuation this problem could have been avoided. To overcome this communication barrier, Apple could train all of their staff how to use punctuation properly. This way a problem like the one with the letter could be avoided and effective, clear communication can be achieved.

Incorrect spelling is a potential barrier in communication because it can be misinterpreted as something else and an important message might not be passed on, this can happen in any written forms of communication, for example: emails and noticeboards


How to overcome cultural barriers?


Proof read: Proof read and spell check all your work before writing.

Ask for help: Ask a colleague to help you with proof checking if you’re still unsure.

Written Communication – Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability which impacts on a person’s reading, writing and spelling. Completely unlinked to intelligence, this disability can be incredibly frustrating for a person, particularly as the skills it affects are so fundamental in the workplace. Many dyslexics are innovative, strong leaders, and work very well in teams so can be a real asset to an organisation. Dyslexia is often referred to as a ‘hidden disability’ as there are no visible physical signs which frequently results in workers concealing their dyslexia or being unaware of it and so being judged unfairly.

Dyslexia affects people in different ways, depending on the severity but signs to look out for in your employees include inconsistent spelling, poor time-keeping, difficulties understanding directions and/or disorganised workspace. Due to the challenges which dyslexics face in their daily job, there may also be less obvious indicators such as an employee passing up on a promotion due to extra paperwork, or reporting in sick as they are struggling to work in an open-plan office.

For an employer, there are different screening techniques which can be put in place to spot dyslexia, either at interview stage with new employees, or at an appropriate point with existing staff. A simple way to identify dyslexia in existing staff members is to offer a short screening test via your intranet, where employees can take part if and when they like. This is particularly effective for identifying people who have previously been reluctant to be open about their condition, or those who suspect they might be dyslexic but have yet to be diagnosed.

How to overcome cultural barriers?

Training: there are different types of training that you can implement in your company to help support dyslexic employees. Types of training you could consider, which should always be carried out by dyslexia specialists. Creating the right work environment, including a review of physical working conditions. Coaching managers in how to work with dyslexic individuals through recruitment and training. For example, dyslexia-awareness seminars for line managers are very effective and ensure that they know how to get best from their staff.

Assistive technology: Technology has had an enormous impact on dyslexic people as it removes many barriers to learning. It makes them more independent in their job and alleviates many difficulties with reading, writing, organisation and memory skills. Most important of all, your employee can achieve immediate success which builds confidence. Detailed below are just some examples of areas which dyslexic people often struggle with and how assistive technologies can help. Reading software could help also, many dyslexic people cannot access material on the internet due to poor literacy levels. Text to speech software reads text back in a real-speak voice at a speed of their choice. Pages of text can be scanned in and read back in the same way. This software is also useful for proof-reading. Other software such as Predictive software suggests a list of the most common words following an initial keystroke. If an employee types ‘b’, a list of common words beginning with ‘b’ appears in the predictor window. The person can have the word spoken before entering it into the text using a single mouse click. Such software enables dyslexics with significant spelling difficulties to write extensively using appropriate vocabulary.

Convey Things of Help and Value to the Listener: The subject matter of the message should be helpful to the receiver. The need and interest of the receiver should specially be kept in mind. Communication is more effective in such a situation. Make the listener understand what you are saying, in his term, if necessary. You should make the listener feel comfortable at all times. Someone they may be in distress or upset, crying, shouting. This makes communication difficult. This can be overcome by talking in a calm, comfortable, quiet manner. If appropriate give them a hug or comfort them

Be a Good Listener: It is the essence of communication that both the sender and the receiver should be good listeners and take in the information for both sides. Both should listen to the each other’s point of view with attention, patience and positive attitude. A sender can receive much relevant information by being a good listener.

Clarify your Ideas before and after Communication: The person sending the communication should be very clear in his mind about what they wants to say and what they want as the outcome to be. They should know the objective of the message and, therefore, should arrange his thoughts in a proper order.